Considered the Nobel Prize of the arts, the Praemium Imperiale was established in 1989 and is awarded annually by the Japan Art Association in five disciplines. The prize is awarded to artists whose work has enriched the global community and influenced art all over the world. The winners of the 2017 edition were announced on September 12, and according to tradition, to make sure the event is acknowledged all over the world, the announcement was made in six cities at the same time: New York, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Tokyo.
We cannot help but focus our attention on Rafael Moneo, Pritzker Prize winner in 1996 and Riba Royal Gold Medalist in 2003, to mention only a few of the acknowledgements awarded to the world-famous architect and instructor at prestigious universities, including Harvard University Graduate School of Design. The committee of the Japan Art Association mentioned some of his most important works in their motivation for the award, including the National Museum of Roman Art in Mérida (1986), which brought the architect to the world’s attention, Madrid Atocha railway station (1992) and the expansion of the Prado (2007). Projects revealing the importance of dialogue between architecture and its urban context in Moneo’s work, the architect’s focus on materials rather than form, the awareness of the importance of history and the location where the building stands or is to stand.
The awards ceremony will take place in Tokyo on October 18, 2017 and the five artists: Shirin Neshat in painting, El Anatsui in sculpture, Rafael Moneo in Architecture, Youssou N’Dour in music and Mikhail Baryshnikov in theatre/film, will be received by Prince Hitachi, the younger brother of the Japanese Emperor. The awards ceremony will be followed by a lecture on architecture by Rafael Moneo (October 19) and a talk with painter Shirin Neshat (October 20).
Images by kind concession of Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, which held a major retrospective of the work of Rafael Moneo April 4 through June 11 2017, curated by Francisco González de Canales.